Image a mouth with several loose teeth visible

Loose Tooth

When to see an emergency dentist

If you:

  • notice your tooth suddenly become loose or looser than normal
  • take a blow to your face that causes your tooth to become loose
  • notice your tooth gradually becoming loose
  • notice a loose tooth become painful, or the gum becoming swollen around it.

What to do if you have a loose tooth

  • Keep the tooth as clean as possible without putting undue pressure on it, follow the preventative advice below
  • Don't wiggle or play with the loose tooth, this could cause further damage and discomfort.
  • Don't try and remove a loose tooth yourself, this can increase the risk of infection and may cause more damage to the surrounding tissues.
  • Wash the area with a warm salty mouth rinse if there is an associated swelling or you are feeling pain from the tooth. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of hot water, and allow it to cool down until it is at a suitable temperature to comfortably swirl around the tooth and gum

Finally, book an appointment with an emergency dentist near you.

Causes

Gum disease – Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. There are many factors that increase the risk of gum disease but the most common cause is poor oral hygiene. Gum disease causes the bone around your teeth to break down over time, which in turn loosens your teeth. Other risk factors include smoking, diabetes, pregnancy, malnutrition, stress, increase in age, and a weakened immune system.

Dental injury – Anybody can suffer a dental injury. Even a minor impact can cause trauma to your teeth, their blood/nerve supply and the supporting structures that hold your teeth into your jaw. All dental injuries should be urgently examined by a dentist.

Abscess – An acute dental abscess can cause sudden tooth mobility. It is normally associated with other symptoms such as pain and swelling.

Grinding or bite problems – Teeth can become loose if your bite pattern causes undue stress on certain teeth.

There may be other causes of increased tooth mobility and this is not an exhaustive list.

Treatment

Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment may include:

Mouthrinses and oral hygiene instructions – Some loose teeth do not require active treatment and may only require advice to help maintain them.

Scaling and Root Surface Debridement – A thorough cleaning of your teeth to reduce the levels of bacteria above and underneath the gum.

Periodontal Surgery – Surgery may be required if non-surgical treatment has been unsuccessful or is not appropriate to treat the cause of your loose teeth.

Bone graft – Bone grafts can help to replace bone that may have been lost.

Bite raising appliances and splints – These may help if you have a grinding habit or an unfavourable bite pattern.

Prevention

The best ways to prevent your teeth becoming loose include:

  • Visit your dentist regularly at a time period specified by your dentist. Children should visit the dentist every 6 months from when their first teeth appear.
  • Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes with an appropriate fluoride toothpaste for your age.
  • Clean between your teeth with interdental brushes daily, and use a daily non-alcohol based fluoride mouthwash.
  • Reduce the amount and the frequency of sugar in your diet.
  • Don't smoke and limit your alcohol consumption to the recommended amounts.
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
  • Wear a bite raising appliance or splint if you have been advised to by your dentist.